Solar Storm on Mars

Solar Storm on Mars

A massive solar storm on Mars occurred on May 20, 2024, shortly after it caused impressive auroras on Earth. This latest storm is part of the normal eleven-year cycle of solar maximums, but it is the first time such a storm has occurred while astronomers have the equipment to record its effect.

Xrays and gamma rays, which travel at the speed of light, reached Mars first and were followed minutes later by charged particles. According to NASA, the Curiosity rover at Gale Crater near the Martian equator took pictures showing white streaks resembling snow but were actually charged particles. The radiation from the solar particles was so intense that the star camera aboard the Mars Odyssey orbiter temporarily shut down.

Curiosity rover’s measurements of the radiation reaching Mars’ surface show that an astronaut standing next to the detector would get radiation equal to 30 chest X-rays. Earth has a strong magnetic field to shield it from energized solar particles, but Mars does not. At the same time, the thin Martian atmosphere could not give protection from the solar storm on Mars.

Planets with a functional atmosphere and located in the Goldilocks Zone, where liquid water on the surface is possible, are rare. All stars go through cycles that pose threats to life on their orbital planets. Mars, a potential target for human visitation and a place where people speculated that life might exist, has received significant attention. This new data from a common solar event suggests that conditions for life to exist are even more challenging than previously thought.

The message of the solar storm on Mars and discoveries like this is important. They tell us that Earth’s creation and the life on it are the product of intelligence and design, not opportunistic chance. They also tell us we must take care of the Earth because, in reality, there is no other place to go if we mess up this planet.

— John N. Clayton © 2024

Reference: CNN Reports on Space Science for June 14, 2024.

Just Right for Life to Exist

Just Right for Life to Exist

Since astronomers have discovered more than 5,000 exoplanets orbiting stars other than our Sun, many insist there must be life elsewhere in the cosmos. For those of us who believe in God, that isn’t really an issue. If there is life out there, God created it, but the Bible only speaks to our planet. However, the evidence is growing that our planet is more unique than most people realize. A “Goldilocks” planet is at the proper distance from its star so that the temperature is “just right” for liquid water to exist on the surface. Some exoplanets appear to be in the habitable zones of their stars, but many other factors must also be just right for life to exist there.

Most known exoplanets are like Jupiter, having no terrestrial surface. To support life, a planet must be the right size, have a stable orbit inside the habitable zone of a stable star, and have the right atmosphere. It must also have working plate tectonics and a large moon to maintain a stable axis tilt. To be just right for life to exist, a planet must also be in the habitable zone of its galaxy – not near the center, exposing it to lethal gamma-ray bursts.

Our Sun is a G spectral star, but only 9% of the stars in our galaxy are that type. M-class dwarf stars are the most common and long-lived stars, but they emit large amounts of radiation that would cook any life on their planets. Also, planets around such a star would become tidal-locked, with one side facing the star being excessively hot while the other remains cold.

Another star system requirement for life would be having outer planets large enough and in the correct position to sweep away asteroids and comets that would bombard an inner planet. To support life, a planet also needs a strong magnetic field to shield the surface from the star’s radiation and cosmic rays.

Our Earth is just right for life to exist. We are defining life as the biology books do: being able to move, breathe, respond to outside stimuli, and reproduce. Any conjecture about fire people or rock people is in science fiction – not scientific fact. The bottom line is that Earth is a special place created by God for a special purpose and is unique among all other objects in the cosmos.

— John N. Clayton © 2024

Reference: “Is Earth the Only Goldilocks Panet?” in Discover magazine, July/August 2024, pages 54 -57.

Entropy and Disorder in the Universe

Entropy and Disorder

The second law of thermodynamics can be stated in many ways. The usual physics statement is that heat cannot move from a lower-temperature reservoir to a higher-temperature reservoir. With any action involving matter, there is always a loss of energy to a state from which it can not be recovered. Actions involve a loss of energy, and we call that entropy.

Heat will move from a warmer area to an area with less heat until the two areas have equal temperatures. Molecules pass from a region of high concentration to a low concentration area until they are equal. A simple illustration is if you spray perfume from a bottle into the air, you will eventually smell it everywhere, but you can’t get it back into the bottle because it will have diffused into the atmosphere.

So, what is the big deal about the second law? Energy drives the cosmos. Stars, galaxies, planets, and objects in space all use energy and are thus subject to the second law of thermodynamics. The first law of thermodynamics says that energy cannot be created or destroyed. The second law tells us that energy is becoming disordered. That means the total amount of energy available for work in the cosmos is decreasing and will end up at zero. The cosmos will eventually experience complete entropy, which scientists call heat death.

The Bible makes it clear that there was a beginning to the creation. (See Genesis 1:1.) Atheists tried to maintain that the cosmos has always existed and oscillates throughout time. There is no evidence to support that. We now know that the expansion of the cosmos is accelerating, so oscillation is impossible. The second law implies that there had to be a beginning to the cosmos when there was perfect order, and no entropy existed. Skeptics continue to try to find a weakness in the biblical account of creation, but all the evidence indicates that there was a beginning.

Even the profound discoveries of quantum mechanics, a branch of physics that deals with the behavior of particles at the smallest scales, have not disproven the second law. In fact, they have revealed that time itself had a beginning, a concept that aligns with biblical passages like Proverbs 8, which refer to God’s wisdom and power. The creation, as it is, speaks of the fact that “we can know there is a God through the things He has made (Romans 1:20).

— John N. Clayton © 2024

Reference: “Disorder Reigns” by Tom Siegfried in the June 15, 2024, issue of Science News. The article gives the history of the second law of thermodynamics” citing the work of great past scientists like Lord Kelvin, Rudolf Clausius, and Sadi Carnot.

Astrolabe Shows Human Cooperation

Astrolabe Shows Human Cooperation
A disassembled 18th century astrolabe

The astrolabe, an astronomical instrument of ancient times, is a testament to human ingenuity and cooperation. It is a two-dimensional map of the universe, typically crafted from plates. Astrolabes, with their star charts and analog calculation capabilities, were not just tools but gateways to understanding the cosmos. In mosques, they were used to calculate the time of sunset or sunrise, thus the time of prayer. People also used them to calculate distances, the position of stars, and the location of latitudes and longitudes. With its intricate design and multifaceted functionality, the astrolabe shows human cooperation.

Federica Gigante, a historian at the University of Cambridge, found the plates of an eleventh-century astrolabe in the vaults of the Museum of the Miniscalchi-Erizzo Foundation in Verona, Italy. The astrolabe she discovered was made of brass and had Arabic engravings. It had a second plate, which meant it had been taken to a different latitude than its Spanish place of origin.

What is interesting about this astrolabe is that it also has Hebrew letters engraved on the plates, indicating their use by Jewish owners, and it was in the archives of a Christian museum. This astrolabe shows human cooperation. It means there was an era in which Muslims, Jews, and Christians built upon one another’s intellectual achievements. All cultures had people with incredible minds who contributed to human knowledge of what the cosmos is about and how we can observe it.

In our day of religious wars between these same groups, it is incredible that humans don’t have the sense to realize the importance of understanding each other and working together to discover Truth. Jesus gave a great answer to this conflict in John 14 when He said, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No man comes to the Father but by me… If you love me, keep my commandments… even the Spirit of truth whom the world cannot receive because it has not seen Him and does not know Him, for He dwells in you and shall be in you.” Think of the progress the world could make if we could work together and follow the commandments of Jesus given so clearly in Matthew 5:21-25 and 38-48.

— John N. Clayton © 2024

Reference: Verona astrolabe on

Media Hype About Exoplanets

Media Hype About Exoplanets

The media continue to make scientifically inaccurate claims to an unsuspecting public. Media hype about exoplanets suggests that life on Earth is not unique, and many habitable planets exist throughout the cosmos. A USA Today article on May 31, 2024, refers to exoplanet Gliese 12 b as a “super-Earth.” It quotes Dr. Masayuki Kuzuhara, assistant professor at the Astrobiology Center in Tokyo, saying, “Although we don’t know whether it possesses an atmosphere, we’ve been thinking of it as an exo-Venus with similar size and energy received from its star as our planetary neighbor in the solar system.” So, what are the facts about Gliese 12 b?

Gliese 12 b is very close to the star Gliese – just 7% of the distance between the Earth and the Sun. That means the radiation from the parent star is sweeping across the planet, and because it orbits once every 12.8 days, any activity on the star will dramatically affect the planet. Gliese is a red dwarf star, not a star like our Sun. It is only 27% of the size of our Sun, with about 60% of the Sun’s surface temperature. Red dwarf stars do not emit wavelengths of light needed for life forms like us. Understand that life cannot exist when the only light reaching the planet is Xrays, UV, Infrared, and radio waves.

Considering all these factors, it is highly improbable that Gliese 12 b has an atmosphere, and the presence of water, oxygen, hydrogen, or ammonia has not been detected and is unlikely to be found. Despite the media hype about exoplanets, there is no scientific evidence to support the existence of life without these elements.

Critics will say, “Maybe the life forms out there are not like us and can survive under different kinds of radiation.” Life is defined as that which can move, breathe, respond to outside stimuli, and reproduce. If you want to speculate that life can be fire people or stone people, you can do so, but scientifically, such hypothetical forms do not qualify as “life.” There is no evidence anywhere that such forms exist.

When you know the facts of what life requires, you cannot logically believe that life forms different from ours can exist in the physical creation. Media hype about exoplanets suggests alternatives that have no scientific support. Science supports Genesis 1:1: “In the beginning, God created the heaven (space) and the Earth.”

— John N. Clayton © 2024

Reference: and

God Used Two Methods

God Used Two Methods to bring everything into existence

In the Spring 2024 issue of God and Nature, Dr. John Carpenter has an excellent article on God’s two methods for bringing things into existence. Dr. Carpenter, a Hebrew and Greek scholar, brings a great understanding of two Hebrew terms in Genesis. Genesis uses the terms “bara” and “asah” to show that God used two methods to bring everything into existence.

The first method that Genesis refers to, “bara,” is creating the physical world and time into existence from nothing. Proverbs 8:22-23 describes this as wisdom and says, “The Lord brought me forth as the first of His works before His deeds of old. I was formed long ages ago at the very beginning when the world came to be.” The Hebrew word “bara” is never used to refer to something humans can do. We find it in Genesis 1:1. It is not used again until Genesis 1:27 to describe humans as being in the image of God, referring to our spiritual makeup. Genesis 2:3 describes the two methods God used: “And God blessed the seventh day and sanctified it because that in it He had rested from all His work which God created (bara) and made (asah).”

That brings us to the second method God used to bring things into existence. “Asah” refers to things that both God and humans can do. That is to take what has already been created and change it to something new. Everything from Genesis 1:2 to Genesis 1:26 involves God making, not creating. The only other Hebrew word that refers to this process is “yatsar” used in Genesis 2:7. That term describes what a potter would do and is used here to refer to God forming the man’s human body, not his spiritual makeup in God’s image).

God used two methods to “create” and “make.” Humans have duplicated what God has done in making things, including work in genetics and genome projects. What sets humans apart from everything else is not our physical makeup. The difference between human DNA and other primates’ DNA is not huge, but human spiritual makeup is a huge difference.

Unfortunately, many denominations refuse to take the Bible literally and twist it to fit their creeds. Science and the Bible agree 100% in what they say, but bad science and bad theology do exist. No one has all the answers, but the evidence is there for all to see and study. Listen to God and not to human theologies, which were an issue in Paul’s day and are an even greater issue today.

In our booklet “God’s Revelation in His Rocks and His Word,” we echo the same point that the Genesis account, with its use of “bara” and “asah,” demonstrates that God used two methods to bring everything into existence. This understanding, when coupled with a literal interpretation of the Bible, reveals a remarkable harmony between science and the Bible, providing reassurance of their compatibility.

— John N. Clayton © 2024

Reference: John B. Carpenter in God and Nature, a publication of the American Scientific Affiliation, spring 2024

Spiders on Mars

Spiders on Mars
Mars “Spiders”

An article by Eric Lagatta published in USA TODAY (April 2024) told about spiders on Mars. To Lagatta’s credit, the word “spiders” was in quotes, indicating that it might be misleading because they don’t indicate life but have a chemical explanation.

Like Earth, Mars has seasons, but they last about twice as long. In the long, dark Martian winter, temperatures are cold enough to freeze carbon dioxide, which settles and covers its dark surface. As the temperature warms, the lower layers return to the gaseous state and break through the surface layers, bringing dark dust up from the Martian surface. The gas and dust become geysers in the thin Martian atmosphere. Next, the dust settles to the surface, forming radial blotches resembling giant spider legs. The area where the pictures were taken is a 53-mile-wide asteroid crater in the south polar region of Mars, called “Inca City” because it resembles the Inca ruins in South America.

The Inca City and spiders on Mars do not indicate life. Earth, in its unique capacity to support life in our solar system, is a marvel. God has blessed us with a planet that provides everything humans need to survive. If there is life on Mars, it would have to be microscopic and deep underground. There are no “ruins” of previous civilizations on the planet and no evidence of life existing there today.

We need to learn to get along with each other because aliens from Mars or anywhere else in the solar system are not coming to help us. Also, living on Mars will be extraordinarily difficult for humans. We may go to Mars to learn more about it, but God created the Earth for us to live on and entrusted us with its care. There would be no point in abandoning it and taking our destructive lifestyles elsewhere.

— John N. Clayton © 2024


Planet Parade Syzygy

Planet Parade Syzygy

Just before sunrise Monday morning, June 3, 2024, six planets and an asteroid will form a “planet parade.” That means they will appear in a straight line as viewed from Earth. The planets involved are Mercury, Jupiter, Uranus, an asteroid, Mars, Neptune, and Saturn, going from the horizon up.  Understand that is how we see them from Earth because Mercury and Jupiter are nowhere near each other.

With the naked eye, you should be able to see Mars, Saturn, and Jupiter, with Jupiter being the brightest. With binoculars, you might be able to see Uranus. With a telescope and knowing where to look, you will see all seven; if the sky is clear, you are away from light pollution and have a clear view of the eastern horizon. However, a crescent moon will make viewing a little more difficult. By Thursday, the Moon will be out of the way to better view the planets, but Mercury and Jupiter will have switched places. The change of position will be caused by the outer planets (Jupiter) appearing to move more slowly than the inner planets (Mercury).

The planets’ ability to appear close together in the sky shows how flat our solar system is. In other words, the planets orbit the Sun in nearly the same plane rather than in random directions. That fact allows the outer planets, especially Jupiter, to serve as comet sweepers, protecting Earth from dangerous objects coming in from beyond the solar system.

A syzygy is a true alignment of planets, which happens very rarely. This planet parade is an interesting apparent alignment, and “syzygy” is a good word to remember the next time you play Scrabble. This beautiful view of our solar system reminds us of God’s wise artistic and engineering design.

— John N. Clayton and Roland Earnst © 2024


We Look Up and See a Blue Sky  

We Look Up and See a Blue Sky  

Most of us underestimate the design of planet Earth. We look up and see a blue sky and take it for granted, but having a blue sky is unique to our planet and tells us much about its design. 

We must first understand that a change in electric charge produces light. The amount varies depending on the amount of change. Small changes produce light that is low in energy and may not be visible to human eyes. Radio waves are light we cannot see. Infrared waves are light humans can’t see, but numerous animals can. For example, a rattlesnake can see infrared light coming from a mouse even though human eyes would say there is no light. The mouse gives off infrared due to its biological processes, and the snake can see it in the dark. We call infrared light radiant heat. 

A large change in an electric charge produces light that is too energetic for our eyes to see. Xrays, ultraviolet, and gamma rays are the words we use to describe these high-energy forms of light. They can expose a photographic plate and penetrate most organic tissue, possibly causing damage. The light our eyes are designed to see has lower energy than Xrays and higher than radio waves. This beautiful design of our eyes means we cannot see through most solid materials like wood, metal, or human flesh. 

Light from the Sun arrives on Earth with all of these energies present. The Earth’s atmosphere is dense enough to prevent the high-energy forms of light from reaching the surface. That means we are not fried by the X-rays, gamma rays, or even excessive ultraviolet light coming from the Sun. The highest visible light that our eyes can see is blue. As blue light enters our atmosphere, it is scattered and refracted away by atmospheric materials. We look up and see a blue sky.

Green is the next highest energy reaching the surface. Plants are protected from damage because their chlorophyll reflects green light. When tree leaves lose their chlorophyll in autumn, the green disappears, replaced by other colors hidden within the leaf structure. Then, the leaves fall off to prepare the tree for winter. Annual plants shrivel and die while perennials retain their root structures to bring color back in the spring.

So we look up and see a blue sky. On the Moon, we would see a black sky. On Jupiter, it would be red. The atmosphere on all the other planets gives a color other than blue. Astronauts face huge dangers when leaving Earth’s atmosphere with its well-engineered light-handling design. To live on the Moon or Mars, human engineers must build elaborate designs to imitate what God created to allow us to live on Earth. That is the greatest challenge to space travel and a great demonstration of God’s wisdom.

— John N. Clayton © 2024

Why Is the Sky Blue, Why Are the Trees Green? is a children’s book available from the Does God Exist? ministry. Contact or purchase the complete set of 16 children’s books at

The Precision of the Cosmos Shows Design

The Precision of the Cosmos Shows Engineering Design

One of the awe-inspiring scientific findings in astronomy is that the process of creating the cosmos is so exquisitely precise that it defies the notion of chance. In other words, the precision of the cosmos is a testament to an engineering design that leaves us in awe. 

The latest measurements reveal a delicate balance in the cosmos. It is expanding at a rate that is precisely what is necessary for the Earth and life to exist. If the rate of expansion were a billionth faster, stars and planets would never coalesce. If the expansion were a billionth slower, gravity would pull everything together in a gigantic crunch with no stars or planets existing. The material universe is expanding at precisely the rate necessary for a planet able to support life to exist, a fact that fills us with wonder and appreciation for the Creator. 

Even the leftover material of creation displays the precision of the cosmos. As of 2024, astronomers have observed 5008 comets, and the European Space Agency (ESA) and NASA have determined their orbits. However, life on Earth has not been endangered by any of these space-going travelers. 

Experts in the field are now writing about the implications of the recent understanding of astrophysics. Dr. Paul Davies, an Arizona State University astrophysicist, wrote, “The laws which enable the universe to come into being spontaneously, seem themselves to be the product of exceedingly ingenious design. If physics is the product of design, the universe must have a purpose, and the evidence of modern physics suggests strongly to me that the purpose includes us.” (Super Force: The Search for a Grand Unified Theory of Nature, Simon and Schuster, 1984)

James C. Peterson, writing in the Journal of the American Scientific Affiliation (March 2024, page 1), writes, “So if the physical universe we can observe indicates that there is something not-material which is powerful enough to create the material; that is purposeful, smart, and generous enough to make it happen in a way that supports the development of conscious life; it might be expected that such a creator would have an interest in the resulting conscious life.”

These are scientists writing in scientific literature, not preachers writing in theological journals. The precision of the cosmos speaks loudly of its Creator. In the words of the Psalmist, “The Heavens declare the glory of God; and the firmament shows His handiwork” (Psalms 19:1).

— John N. Clayton © 2024

Reference: “Big, Indeed Epic, History” in Perspectives on Science and the Christian Faith, March 2024, page 1.